About Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

Pilgrim, writer, speaker, retreat director, social media minister, church secretary - it's hard to believe I was once a corporate executive, but I was. Married to an incredible man, have a spectacular stepdaughter, dog and cat.

Foot care area

Deb Santo Domingo

Typical albergue scene. That’s my friend Deb in the albergue with the “FOOT CARE AREA.” Quite naturally, her feet are up!

When on Camino, normal – no, typical behaviors shift. Normal implies they must be the right thing to do; typical indicates what is generally done. At night as you sleep in rooms chock-a-block with wobbly bunkbeds, all sorts of noises erupt from the bodies around you – and perhaps from within you. Snoring, the expulsion of gas, mutterings from those in wild dream, or just two pilgrims who whisper into the night to one another.

Something that is highly normative on Camino is people showing their totally screwed up feet to one another. Taking your shoes off in a cafe or restaurant does not merit a raised eyebrow, it happens all the time. Blisters Continue reading

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Must burn

D4OfvVBX4AUj-UMThis image of the interior of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame after the fire is haunting. In the darkened sanctuary a cross stands, shining in the distance.  The words of Viktor Frankl remind us “what is to give light must endure burning.” 

Upon awakening from a night of fitful sleep I thought about  Fluctuat nec mergitur. This Latin phrase translates more or less to she is tossed by the waves, but does not sink.”  Since at least 1358 it has been used as the motto by the city of Paris. Today the city of Paris, the City of Lights, or in French, La Ville-Lumière has been tossed indeed. The Cathedral of Notre-Dame rests in the remains of smoke and ashes after a devastating fire, but it has not sunk, nor has Paris itself. Yet when I woke up, I had to wonder if it had really happened.

*****

Here we are on Tuesday of Holy Week Continue reading

Hosanna and destiny

Large EDIT Palms for Palm Sunday.jpgEach week at mass we pray these words aloud in song or prayer…

Hosanna, in the highest!

Today the words take on a deeper meaning as we celebrate Palm Sunday, remembering Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.

There are studies upon studies to reveal just what lengths humans will go to in order to Continue reading

New thing

EDITIsaiahLilacBud copyHaving attended a 4pm liturgy on Saturday, I heard a good homily, but I was left wanting. After hearing a young woman proclaim the First Reading from Isaiah with such gift and passion, and then to hear another woman proclaim the Second Reading with similar style, I felt so hungry – starved actually – to hear a woman’s preaching voice.

For the record, and to the chagrin of many, I do not support the women’s ordination movement as it exists today. Sorry, that’s another story for another day perhaps. Those of you who actually know me know that this is how I feel, what I believe, others – you will have to take my word for it and maybe I will go into it another time.

Anyway, these women’s proclaiming voices snapped me into a kind of openness and attention that left me vulnerable. Thankfully the homily was OK. The kind of homily an old friend might have described by saying Continue reading

Bring them here to me…

IMG_5747_mappano72-1220x763A friend posted this image on her Facebook page, well – the same image, a different shot. This was taken in a shelter in Mexico, La 72. It is a map that shows migrants the way, along with train tracks and danger zones, as well as shelters. The journey undertaken by immigrants is a desperate and dangerous one. Here is one article, the one where I found this image; it is from Oxfam.

There is that old video (old = May 2018) of the president calling out people as animals. Apparently he was talking about MS-13 gang members. Are they animals? Are Nazis and white supremacists animals? Are serial killers animals? I would have to say no. What I would say is that some people make horrific and heinous choices, undertake vile actions, and choose to behave in evil ways, but are they animals? No, I would not say that ever, because of my faith and my belief in the dignity inherent in all human beings. I cry and rage over those – from MS-13 to Trump and all the others making dark choices, but their dignity remains present whether or not they choose it.

Are we “full?” Not really. Are we broke? Not really, although I suspect that we will financially harmed by the current administration. If I ever hear about “tax and spend Democrats again” I may have a heart attack. We do not have the funds? I’m pretty sure that we could find them if we had the political and moral will to do so – but we lack either virtue as a nation.

christ-feeding-5000Here is my little sermon for anyone left reading/listening… In Matthew 14:13 Jesus has withdrawn to a deserted place to Continue reading

Bread and desert living during Lent

downloadAs is often the case, my desire to blog is confronted with the reality of daily life – result, no time for blogging. Work has been busy, I have been dealing with a sick cat, and also working on some other projects. Oh well. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

That said, I have a few minutes today and I’m wondering about how your Lent is going? What are you reading? Have you altered your prayer life? Many of us have obsessed over what to give up or take on, or both, but too much obsessing means a focus on the self and not God. Essentially giving up or taking on should be about creating more space to encounter God.

For the first time in a long time I am at peace with how that is unfolding this Lent. Various things had occurred that had my typical prayer practices disturbed, resulting in limited prayer. I was not at peace with that and have struggled for some time to find a new rhythm. Lent has provided me with a way to do that. Also, I am spending time each morning reading some wonderful texts, beginning with Give Us This Day. In full disclosure Continue reading

Be merciful, and other thoughts on interfaith life

MercifulThis morning today’s Gospel from Luke offered this message to us… a brief lesson from Jesus on how to live.

The horrific massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand continues to dominate the news. Somehow this one may have touched a new nerve. Locally, the Islamic Center of the Capital District hosted an interfaith prayer service on Sunday, and I was blessed to attend this event. That’s a big part of why today’s Gospel truly hit home. This is how we are meant to live with one another, full stop Continue reading